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Then [Jesus] took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to [His disciples], saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the New Covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in My Father’s kingdom.”[1]

Jesus’ blood was poured out for the forgiveness of our sins. Which one came first, forgiveness or repentance? It is like the chicken and egg question. The answer to the question is forgiveness came before repentance, for the Lamb of God was slain from the creation of the world.[2] Regarding the chicken and egg question, if you do not know the answer by now, refer to Genesis 1:24-25.

One of the first few words that Jesus spoke when He started preaching was “Repent.” He said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near,”[3] and, “The time has come. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”[4] Do not think that someone is a worse sinner than you are. God is Justice and He is the Just Judge. Remember that we are all sinners saved by grace through repentance. So, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”[5]

Jesus said, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”[6] Beware, for Jesus might say to you such similar words: “Do you think that those men who died in the Asian tsunami were worse sinners than all the other men because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the building in Dhaka collapsed,[7] do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Bangladesh? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” The Sovereign Lord takes no pleasure in the death of anyone.[8] So, repent and live!

During one of Jesus’ appearances to His disciples after His death on the cross, He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And He said to them, “Thus it is written, and it was right, that Christ should suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance should be preached in His Name for the forgiveness of sins among all nations…”[9]

Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.[10] However, was there and is there any who are righteous on this Earth? Are we not all sinners? For the Lord said, “…every inclination of [man’s] heart is evil from childhood.”[11] That is why we have been called to continuously and humbly repent.

Repentance is on one side of the coin and on the other side is forgiveness. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, one of the sentences was “forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.”[12] Then He went on to say, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”[13]

We know that Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, has authority on Earth to forgive sins. We also know that the disciples of Jesus have authority to forgive sins, just like Him, for He said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”[14] However, is there a trace of bitterness in our hearts, which is preventing us from forgiving everyone who has sinned against us? Can you truly forgive everyone, including your enemies, of their sins from your heart? Always remember that Jesus Christ, our Saviour, went to the cross willingly and whole heartedly even though it was not His sins that He had to pay for. Repent of that bitterness! Do unto others as you would have it done unto you. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.[15]

Jesus said, “He who has been forgiven little loves little.”[16] Mary Magdalene, whose many sins have been forgiven, loved much. She, who sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to Him, loved Him much. Do you not want to forgive those who have sinned against you, especially those who have many sins, so that they too would love much? Would it not be wonderful to have your enemies changed into your brothers, sisters and mothers in Christ and for them to love Jesus more than you? Or is there bitterness in you that does not want to see your former enemies ahead of you in the line to Jesus? Can you bear to be among the last in the procession for Jesus Christ with all your former enemies, including the former enemies of the Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit and also the former enemies of your brothers and sisters in Christ, ahead of you, especially when you might have been saved before them and might have borne the heat of the day much more than them? There is no point in being last with all your former enemies ahead of you if you are going to be bitter about it.

We have learnt that it is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” than to say, “Get up and walk.”[17] We are to do the easier thing, which is to forgive sins, as well as the harder thing, which is to do miracles. Jesus did both, forgive sins and perform miracles, and we are to do the same and also do greater things. It is not just a matter of declaring someone’s sins as forgiven, but to forgive that person of his sins from your heart. “This is how My heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”[18] He might call you in and say, “You wicked servant, I forgave all that sins of yours because you begged Me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant who sinned against you and begged you to forgive him just as I had on you?” In anger He might turn you over to the jailers to be tortured, until you should pay back all you owed.

Jesus said to His disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”[19] I used to think those ‘little ones’ that Jesus was referring to are just children in general. Now, come up the mountain of God with me a little further and remembering that the word of God is a double edged sword… those ‘little ones’ also include the Father’s sons and daughters who are still young in the Lord. Basically, they are our younger brothers and sisters in Christ. They are not necessarily younger in terms of age or even in terms of born-again years, but they are younger in terms of coming to know the Lord, the Lord, the Lord.

When Peter asked Jesus: “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”[20] Jesus answered, “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seventy-seven.”[21] But what if your brother sins against you more than seventy times seventy-seven times? Do you stop forgiving him then? If you answered yes, allow me to ask you, how many times have you sinned against the Lord? More than seventy times seventy-seven times? Did the Lord stop forgiving you after your 5390th sin, even with your repentance?

We have learned that every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.[22] We also know that those who do not know the Holy Spirit cannot blaspheme Him, but disciples of Jesus Christ who know the Holy Spirit, like you and I, are those who can blaspheme the Holy Spirit and be guilty of an eternal sin. Thus be very careful for there is no forgiveness for speaking against the Spirit of Holiness. As we go further up the mountain of God on to harder teachings and as we hear the Holy Spirit more and know of Him more, there is also more occasions of committing this eternal unforgivable sin.

As we journey on the Way of Holiness, walking along the edge of a sharp sword, we have to remember to repent continuously and forgive those who have sinned against us from our hearts, and not forget why Jesus went to the cross and how the Holy Spirit sacrificed His holiness. Repent of your sins of unrepentance and unforgiveness. Repent continuously and humbly to the Lord. Forgive those who have sinned against you from your heart. Then the Lord might entrust us with the power we lost. Amen.


 

[1] Matthew 26:27-29

[2] Revelation 13:8

[3] Matthew 4:17

[4] Mark 1:15

[5] Matthew 7:1-2

[6] Luke 13:2-5

[7] http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/02/25/bangladesh.building.collapse/index.html

[8] Ezekiel 18:32

[9] Luke 24:45-47 (Peshitta)

[10] Luke 5:32

[11] Genesis 8:21

[12] Matthew 6:12 (NLT)

[13] Matthew 6:14-15

[14] John 20:22-23

[15] Luke 6:37

[16] Luke 7:47

[17] http://www.holyspiritsworkshop.com/word2006/22.04.2006_WhatIsEasierToSay.pdf

[18] Matthew 18:35

[19] Luke 17:1-4

[20] Matthew 18:21

[21] Matthew 18:22 (Peshitta)

[22] Matthew 12:31-32

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